Friday 9 October
Extra prayer times at the Blue Mosque occur on Fridays and visitors who are not there to pray have restricted times for viewing. Instead , we started at the Hagia Sophia which is now a museum and an important monument both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires. It was originally a church, then a mosque but is now a museum of the Turkish Republic. Three churches have been built on the site and part of the second church can be seen in the carved lambs which represent the 12 apostles. The third church has been affected by earthquakes causing cracks in parts including the dome.
Moving to the Blue Mosque after a lunch on the rooftop of a restaurant, long pants are required and headwear for women to enter. This mosque is the only mosque with 6 minarets and is called the blue mosque due to the blue tiles which decorate its interior. Like the Hagia Sophia, it is large and beautiful and both important buildings should not be missed in Istanbul.
Near the Haghia Sophia we descended the stairs to the Basilica Cistern under the city. It is quite surprising to be suddenly in this underground area lit but lamps to show the pillars and walkways. In between the walkways, there is water and some areas have fish (carp I think). Find the two medusa heads in the two columns in one corner and then return past the Cistern Cafe if the mustiness in the air doesn’t bother you too much.